Saturday, July 13, 2019

This Week in 3rd Grade

In addition to reading some of:
  • The Princess and the Goblin
  • Beware, Princess Elizabeth 
  • Life of Fred: Algebra
  • Hexapod Stories (The chapter about Swallowtail butterflies, followed by a couple of short YouTube videos of Swallowtail caterpillars)
  • The World By the Fireside (The chapter about flycatcher birds, followed by a couple of short YouTube videos of flycatchers)
  • Exodus and Matthew
  • Walter De La Mare’s poetry
  • Discovery of New Worlds & This Country of Ours (about Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci)
  • Tales of Troy and Greece (about Perseus)
  • Pilgrim’s Progress
  • Lamb’s Shakespeare (Much Ado About Nothing)
  • ...and A LOT of free reading of books Gemma checked out from the library (she currently has 23 checked out, and a handful on hold)
  • went bowling several days this week (and by “we” I mean “she”)
  • saw the play in which big sis Krystyna is the lead

  • went to the reptile show at the library

  • went to water polo class
(Gemma’s turn as goalkeeper.)
  • started diving class (and taught herself how to do a somersault off the edge of the pool😳)

  • grew mushrooms 

(Our mushroom harvest - sautéed 😋)

  • saw the youth production of “Mercy Watson to the Rescue” at the Morgan Wixson Theatre

Thursday, July 4, 2019

We Made Cheese

Today we made cheese. 

It took hours. And it was expensive. But now that it’s over, and it turned out to be edible, and the dishes (so many dishes) are washed, I’m glad we did it. Even if Gemma tasted it and said she didn’t like it.

Because sometimes our children don’t react the way we wish they would. Sometimes we spend 3 hours and $35 making one ball of cheese, and while our children enjoy the process, they might not enjoy the product.

Curds and whey.

I tried the water bath method of heating the curds so we could, as per the kit’s instructions, stretch the cheese “like taffy.” FYI: stretching cheese is not at all like stretching taffy. According to the instructions, the cheese needs to be 135 degrees to stretch, but I found that our cheese needed to be 140 degrees. I recommend microwaving your curds in intervals of 30 seconds until they look like they’re going to cooperate.

While the kit’s instructions made stretching cheese with one’s bare hands look like good times (rubber gloves optional), I’m going to say it’s actually not all that fun to hold a pound of 140-degree cheese. I recommend using two spoons instead. 

At 3 p.m., after washing the pots, lids, cups, spoons, colander, thermometer, and the long knife used for cutting my hot curds, and wiping down the stove, it was time to make a pizza...with frozen dough and store-bought sauce.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Water Polo: Lesson 2

Gemma is the tiny one with the star on her chest. Everyone else is sooo much bigger than she is.😳

Sunday, June 16, 2019

3rd Grade: Math

We have a nontraditional way of doing math in our homeschool.

First, we use Life of Fred as our primary curriculum. I rarely come across homeschoolers who do this. The criticism I hear about Fred is that there isn’t enough practice. I disagree. Gemma grasps concepts quickly, and I don’t see it necessary to have her work through a couple of pages of problems in order to prove she can do something. I have this attitude because of my experience in a classroom setting. In a classroom, “independent practice” is used to keep the majority of students busy while the teacher pulls the handful of students who had trouble with yesterday’s math lesson and need reteaching.

Second, we don’t do math every day. Some weeks we get in three math lessons. Sometimes we do math only once a week. This works for us, but if my child were working at grade level or below grade level, we would do math daily.

Third, I’m ignoring all of the homeschool moms out there who advise other moms that later is better for algebra. All children are not the same. Some children are ready for algebraic concepts before middle school, and I live with one.

Fourth, we don’t complete a lesson in one sitting. While Gemma is capable of doing algebra, she doesn’t have the endurance of a child four to six years older than her. She can complete one-third to one-half a lesson per sitting. This is not a reason to give her math at her grade level. She craves a challenge, and needs to explore new concepts that force her to ask questions.

Homeschool moms are opinionated. We are quick to offer our advice. But you know your child, and you don’t need to ask for someone else’s approval for every educational decision you make. You don’t bring a dozen women into the dressing room with you when you try on a pair of jeans, and you don’t need to bring them into the decision-making when you “try on” a curriculum. Draw the curtain. Let yourself be alone with that curriculum. Does it fit? Because, ultimately, it’s your family that’s going to “wear” it.

3rd Grade: Free Reading

Here is how we approach Free Reading...

During the day, Gemma can read whatever she wants, and she reads a lot. I strew books, and sometimes she takes to them. (This past week, she read Tommy Smith’s Animals, which I had purchased thinking we would use it for natural history. Plans change. Gemma has asked me to also buy Tommy Smith at the Zoo, but I think she wants to read it as a free read and not a “school” book. Beautiful how the line between free reading and “school” can blur like that, if you’re willing to step out of the way and let it.) I also let Gemma make her own choices at the library, as well as from my classroom library, even if the books she chooses might be considered “twaddle” by the Charlotte Mason police. 

At bedtime, we have two books going. One is a Mom choice, and one is a Gemma choice. The Mom choice is actually a “school” book that I move to the bedtime slot; I don’t think every book needs to be narrated. Our last Mom choice was Robin Hood (Pyle); our current Mom choice is The Princess and the Goblin. (After the introduction of Curdie, and the knowledge that there is The Princess and Curdie, Gemma asked me to get her that book, too.) Our last Gemma choice was The Tarantula in my Purse (Jean Craighead George; an absolute must-read); our current Gemma choice is Beware, Princess Elizabeth (Carolyn Meyer).